Delhi’s air quality continued to be in the “poor” category on Monday after it began to decline on October 7 for the first time in over three months. However, government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or SAFAR, said the air quality index was likely to improve slightly in the coming days due to a change in the wind direction.
The overall air quality index or AQI was 232 at 12.30 pm. An index reading between 0 and 50 puts the air quality in “good” category. A reading between 51 and 100 puts it in the “satisfactory” category, between 101 and 200 in the “moderate” category, and between 201 and 300 in the “poor category”. The air quality is said to be “very poor” when the index value falls between 300 and 400. An index value between 400 and 500 puts the quality in the “severe” category.
The 24-hour average AQI was 216 on Sunday and 221 on Saturday. Northwesterly winds bring in pollution from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana to the city.
“Though stubble burning fires [was] observed yesterday around Punjab, Haryana, and neighbouring border regions with SAFAR synergized fire count estimated as 614 on October 11, but the count is nearly one eight of the peak values observed last two years. The peak fire count and impact are expected by the first week of November. Delhi AQI with marginal stubble contribution in PM2.5 is estimated at 3% on 12th October. It is likely to reduce by 13th due to changes in wind direction.”— SAFAR
Meanwhile, the pollution control board data showed that PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 microns) in the Delhi and National Capital Region was at 242 microgram per cubic meter, PTI reported. This is the highest recorded levels this season so far. PM10 levels below 100 microgram per cubic metre are considered safe in India.
On Monday morning, Delhi’s minimum temperature settled at 19.4 degrees Celsius. The maximum wind speed was 4 kilometers per hour. Low temperatures and stagnant winds help in accumulation of pollutants near the ground, affecting air quality.
Rs 50 lakh fine imposed on NCRTC
On Sunday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that he has instructed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to impose a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the National Capital Region Transport Corporation’s for not taking dust control measures at a construction site near Vikas Sadan here and violating air pollution control measures.
“It is an emergency and the Delhi government is focusing on reducing the pollution level right now by strictly implementing rules and regulations to tackle the local sources of pollution,” Rai added. “The government will take a call on restrictions such as the odd-even car rationing scheme depending on the situation.”
This came a day after the Delhi Pollution Control Committee imposed a fine of Rs 20 lakh on a demolition site of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Tansen Marg for violating dust control norms.
It is mandatory to install anti-smog guns at construction and demolition sites larger than 20,000 square metres, as per government guidelines.
An analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a Delhi-based think tank, said that transportation contributes 18% to 39% to the Capital’s air pollution, the highest among any other factors. This is followed by road dust which contributes 18% to 38%, industries contribution was 2% to 29%, thermal power plants was 3% to 11% and construction adds 8%.
From October 15, the Delhi government will enforce stricter measures to control air pollution as part of its Graded Response Action Plan, first started in 2017. The measures include increasing the number of buses and metros, stopping use of diesel generators and hiking parking fees.
The Graded Response Action Plan also recommends sprinkling water on roads, frequent cleaning of roads, maximising the use of natural gas for power generation and shutting down stone crushers, brick kilns and hot mix plants when the air quality enters the extreme category.